Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sniper Drones of the Tau Empire

As the 5th Edition OFCC tournament approaches and i prepare myself for it it is humorous on a couple of levels to me, because as part of trying to make a friendly list (which is sort of the point at OFCC, or at least ostensibly it is) I included this unit as one that never sees play...ever.  I've literally never seen anyone usee them EXCEPT me.

Yet looking forward to 6th Edition I am kind of glad I own them.  Let's take a look.

First off, they are STR 6.  In 40K, STR is easily the most important stat in the game.  Even terminators fail saves, given enough of them and so the more wounds you do, the more chances to kill them.  Obviously, STR 6 weapons are in the sweet spot for negating Feel no Pain on many more "mundane" toughness models like most Dark Eldar.  You're wounding on 2's against the vast majority and it means that even Monsters are getting wounded on 4's.  In other words, it inhabits a very important and valuable niche.

Adding to that is the AP 3.  It is a Marine killing gun platform for sure.  There really isn't a trygon anywhere who wants to see these things as it pops up in front of the Tau gunline either.  Even an Avatar would be less than enthused.

It is also a pinning Weapon.  2/3 of the Codex's do not feature primarily fearless units.  Everyone likes to live to fight another day.  So while it is poo poo'd by many, Pinning can and has won battles for people.  Being stopped from making a charge at a critical time can be a death knell.

Add to this the ability of markerlights.  6 markerlight hits will allow all 9 guns to hit on 2's, wound on 2, no save.  12 Markerlight hits (unlikely, but factually true) will do the same thing, only removing your cover to boot.  Point is, they can obliterate entire units of Marines.  Very potent threat.

Now the new rules make them even heartier.  You can no longer ALLOCATE KILL the Drone Controller which was a huge reason why people didn't take them.  when the enemy would dare to try the Night Fight rules to see them, three wounds usually did in the entire squad. 

But now Shrouded and Stealth make a Sniper Drone Team almost immortal.  They are AS HARD TO KILL AS BROADSIDES WITH TWO SHIELD DRONES.  And thats pretty darn tough!  Shoruded and stealth give them 4+ cover saves in the open and 2+ when actually in cover.  ridiculous.  When defended by their doughty Fire Warrior Buddies, they are just a really impressive unit now in the Tau repertoire.

I don't know if people will look at them more favorably than using the slot for Broadsides but if you have the slot, I can think of many things that would be a ton worse to have than them.  Its a very viable unit now.  if the Three drone squad kills 5 marines, it got its points back.  They should be able to do that every game with maarkerlight help.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Tau with Space Marine Allies

As you know, the author is a big fan of the Tau and I have been playing them for as long as I have played 40K.  So you can imagine my excitement when I got to see the impact of having Space Marine and Eldar Battle Buddies in my force.

As a Tau player, the kroot have been, literally, the only melee presence in the force.  Of all the races, we are the only one that lacks a legitimate way to combat other armies in hand to hand.  Now this was fine as it pretty well stuck to the fluff.  On occassion the Kroot would rise to the occasion and on some even more rare occasions against Orcs, necrons, Tau and other very low INIT units, they would actually shine.  Their mobility was of primary value over theie melee ability, but at least it was something.

The inability to charge from reserves, while it helped the Tau, also harmed their ONLY melee threat.  It made what was a borderline unit that you always felt you needed for stunning and shaking backfield artillery to death or jumping 5 man LongFang units, to a nearly indefensible unit to take.  At 140 points, you can have a unit that can hit and kill 1 2/3 Marines per round in shooting, 3 1/3 at short (and therefore deadly) range in the best of cases when shooting.  By comparison Fire Warrior Squad can kill the same, have better armor, better range and of course, they can use Markerlights, turning them into a far deadlier unit.  In melee, 12 Fire Warriors on the charge against marines if lucky enough to lose 3 before they swing, can kill 1 Marine.  They only lose by 2.  Not terrible if you're trying to hold the line and want a chance at stopping them from advancing on their turn and with Either an Ethereal or Shadowsun around, or perhaps the right Warlord Trait, it can even be a decent gambit, given worse would have happened if they multicharged YOU and rampaged across the line.

So Kroot are just out.

Which brings us back to allies. Tau are the race that allies make the most sense for for all th obvious fluff reasons.  In Chapter Approved, they had access to Imperial Guardsman as FireWarrior like squads with lasguns.  I even had some modeled but never used them.  And that feature is now back for the Tau.  But more significantly, The Tau have the Space Marines and the Eldar as battle Buddies and this is going to change the Tau Empire forever.

My first experiment was with Darnath Lysander.  I liked this guy because I could model him as a Broadside battlesuit with the Lysander StormShield plastered to the Broadsides arm, a Space marine head glaring from atop it.  Such a simple conversion and in keeping with the Tau theme.

My next idea was to take the extra (newer version) stealth suits which I really don't use (I like the older model better), put Space Marine shoulder pads and bolter arms coming from them and call them Space marine converts.  They look sufficiently unlike my normal Stealth suits to be clearly bigger and distinguishable to my opponents eyes.

Lastly  I decided to put five Tactical Terminators in the list with an Assault Cannon.  Still working on what I can do to convert that.

This combination took on a Dante-led Sanguinary guard type army, and tabled it in its first foray.

Tau firepower coupled with just those three units was amazing.  Two hammers the likes of which Tau have never known, coupled with their fairpower and a unit for close defense to keep the line firing was nothing short of fantastic.  it is a combination I intend to try again, possibly with Marneus Calgar next time.

Tau with allies are going to be a force in the galaxy and as the other races come to heel behind their banner, each according to his strengths adding to the greater whole, it may not be long before the imperium of man is liberated from its slavery and dark age.

What combinations would you like to see in a Tau force?

Friday, July 27, 2012


Did 6E make the right decision in making Skyfire as rare as it is?  Skyfire allows you to fire at Flyers with full Ballistic Skill, but you are crappy at firing at anything else.  Very very few things can do this.

Well I have played a few games against flyers and here's what I observe:  the dismounting rules make it so that ultimately, those flyers are going to give you a chance to pop them when they enter hover mode and 6's DO happen.  So all is not lost when fighting flyers.  In addition, certain rules like the Tau Skyray are actually better than Skyfire becasue the Seeker Missiles fire at BS 5 but have the virtue of being able to fire at ground targets just fine.

I personally think that they made the right decision not to flood every army with Skyfire.  From a narrative standpoint, Flyers are way up there and flying at improbable speeds compared to other things on the board.  They're probably not within the easy range nor aiming capabilities of many weapons and so it "makes sense" narratively.

Flyers are not cheap as a rule, and their movement rules leave their back ends exposed a bit.  Dar Eldar Flyers dont get above AV 11 and AV 12 for other flyers.  The consequences when you get blown from the sky in one is pretty dire also if you're transporting people!

I do think that as new codex's come out, you will see more Skyfire weapons.  But allowing the scenario to "play out" a little in tournaments and such and seeing how big an impact they will or won't be will help the developers decide how much MORE frequent they want Skyfire to be and flyers for that matter.

I personally anticipate that flyers might proliferate AS the answer to other flyers and the idea of Dog fights is pretty appealing.  the rules sort of encourage dog fights and thats a cool idea to me.  Lets face it, every army, even today, has an airforce.  I can just imagine (think Avatar) what a Tyranid flyer would look like, but it'll probably be awesome.  The theme music to Top Gun playing while you play with your toys is fun.

I'm more of a narrative leaning guy so for me, I think they hit a home run on the Flyer/Skyfire rules with one little exception:  German 88's are plenty effective (Read:  absolutely devastating)  against ground targets so why do Skyfire weapons fire SO poorly against ground targets 40K years later? BS 1 seemed a bit low for Skyfire weapons.  Markerlights don't impact the BS because the BS is a "set value" of 1 (see page 2 of the Main Rulebook).  I suppose to keep it consistent they made it BS 1, but I sort of question the internal logic on that. 

despite that break in internal logic I am pretty excited to see more of these fun dogfights.  the new Space Marine flyer, as ugly as it is, can now go skyhunting and have a real role to play, dropping from the clouds behind Flyers and blowing them away.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Prizes and Rewards

Been talking a lot about this lately, and trying to keep an open mind.  A lot of people make grandiose claims about the "research and statistics" they've done to prove that this or that solution to tournament scoring is right but I think the focus is wrong.

Fact is, this isn't a complicated subject and most of those claims are gamers taking themselves a little too seriously.  What's interesting about it though is that although not complicated, there is a ton of passion behind it at times.  People really do get pretty worked up over the slightest small issue with it and they'll cry from the mountaintop if it isn't their perfect ideal.

To me, the prize portion of the tournament has three purposes.  First is to reward those who did well in their respective categories.  Obviously, this is why they came.  The second purpose is to encourage the newest player to keep coming back for more.  The third purpose is to pump the reputation of your tournaments so that players from out of the area will come and your attendance can increase, which becomes a self perpetuating thing.  If we don't focus some energy in that direction, they will just become discouraged and quit coming.  I know plenty of players who used to be tourney regulars that aren't now and have stated openly they wont be, such as my friend Gavin who recently said as much.  Getting a beat down each time is a discouraging thing for anyone but the sting WOULD be lessened if there were rays fo hope and small gifts along the way as they learn to be better tourney players.

Money is the major stumbling block here.  Charge too much and people can't come, even if they want to.  Charge too little and the people we are talking about simply can't be afforded any prizes.  So it seems to me that pricing a tournament better will ultimately yield you what you want. 

Lets look at it:

If I offer a $200 prize for first place, plenty of people would love to win that.
I offer $100 to the Best General (effectively, second place).
I offer $50 for painting and $50 for Sportsmanship.
I offer a $25 "Best Worst Luck" Award to the person who lost and lost badly.
I offer a prize of $25 to the person who brought the largest amount of food for everyone to eat
I raffle two random prizes off for $25 each.  Thanks for coming.
Give 2 Players $10 voucher towards the next tournament entry fee that have the most interesting story to tell about their game.

So about $450 dollars gets you 6 extremely happy winners and a tourney full of people who had a shot at all of those in one form or another.  Everyone who goes gets a lot of gaming in, everyones in the hat for prizes and people will want to come back and bring people with them becasue at your tournament, the prizes are large and healthy and everyone gets a shot.  Everyone wins.

Unfortunately self interest causes people to focus so much on the here and now and what they get out of it, that much of this doesn't matter to them.  Let the other guy worry about driving attendance.  I just want whats mine if I win, is their attitude.  The long view says if the winners are willing to give a little "to the people" then the people will end up giving more back to the winners!"

Well, if you have 12 players show up regularly, that's $37.50 per person the first time you do it.  But now the word is out and people know that going to your tourneis is pretty fun and worthwhile. 

Well here's my suggestion and I am basing this on the idea of 12 players showing up.  if you regularly get more, all the better:

Go to the game store owner and explain that you have a plan for increasing the attendance of their store.  Dramatically.  The seed money will be provided by the tournament, which you will run.  What you need to ask them for is that they make no profit for two tournaments.  They will match the tourney organizers intake, effectively doubling the pool of money.  So now you can sell tickets for $20 instead of $37.50 and publicise the actual prize sizes with fair confidence.

After two tournies, a lot more people will want to be at these events because payouts are good.  Takes time to get the word out but it will get out if you make sure of it.  And that will allow you to seek sponsorship monies to augment things further.  you need the attendance to justify selling sponsorships though.

So the store can recoup its investment later through out of town sales and exposure and of course the Tournament can become self sustainging.  Yes that means the winners aren;t getting as much.  but it means more people are getting SOMETHING, and ultimately we play this game for fun.  The more fun we make it for as many as we can, the more they will want to be a part of it.

So it takes some sacrifice I suppose, but once you get it going it can really be a boon to the whole gaming community.  It really does start with the store owners vision and willingness to take a risk, but a well organized club should be able to reward that store owner for their investment.  Even offering part of the Sponsorship money to recompense them later can be a solution. 

So much of this would be aimed at highly organized clubs, since continuing such efforts is better done as a club than leaving it to one perosn.  But its worth doing.  Get creative.  Use Prizes as a way to drive the hobby and sales. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Blood Angels Vs. Dark Eldar Battle Report

A mountain with a stand of trees along the west board edge and another in the southeast marked the raised terrain.  In between the two were 2 bastions and a church spread across the SW to the NE axis of the battlefield.  and then two more buildings along the same axis, set between the bastions and the Blood Angels who were deployed to the north (touched on later).  A lonely house at the SW outskirts of the installation marked the only sign of civilian influence in the otherwise military dominated area. 

The Blood Angels were deployed in anticipation of the Dark Eldar attack and had gained the initiative through the carefule application of informants and listening posts.  The Dark Eldar were going to raid this place and none other than Urien Rakarth himself would be leading the charge.  So momentous was the occasion of the battle that Mephiston, Lord of Death and the great Librarian of the Chapter, had accompanied the men here. 

The Emperors Will was to protect two listening posts, vital for trade communications and frankly, Dark elder invasions like this.  One was in the far SE corner where the Dark Eldar were expected to take it early on.  The second was safely in the center of the Dawn of War deployment area of the Blood Angels.

Four Land Raiders all deployed near the northern board edge promising a brutal contingent, manned with units of Tactical Marines.  A LandSpeeder to the NW readied to swing around the church and take the invaders by surprise.  Mephiston set alongside the easternmost LandRaider (A Redeemer) in quiet anticipation next to a Death Company group, making notes.  Two Furioso’s prepared for Drop Pod Launch…

The Dark Eldar came as expected.  4 Raiders spread themselves evcenly out along the southern board edge, taking cover and positioning themselves to take advantage of the bastions and the church/other buildings for cover, trusting in their Nightshields to further confound the enemy.  One of the Dark Raiders came upon the first Listening post.  Twisted Wracks howled inside, ready to leap out, when needed, to secure it.  Dominating the middle of the deployment were the Grotesques.  To their right stood an incredible managerie of beasts, being tamed by BeastMasters.  To their right, next to the SE mountain, were both the Cronos and the Talos Pain Engine, simmering with hatred and drug induced rage.

Turn 1:
Mephiston gave the command and the first Furioso blasted from orbit and slammed into the earth in front of the beastMasters.  It's Heavy Flamer and Meltagun blazed away, hurting the Razorwing flocks and killing two of the tamers.

The Death Company waited restlessly behind the Redeemer near Mephiston.

The LandRaiders shifted east slightly and fired, but the Dark Eldar had used the Bastions well to cut off clear line of sight and while the enemy did score some hits, it was superficial until the last Land Raider finally tagged and blew a Dark Raider to kingdom come.  FIRST BLOOD!

The Dark Eldar Wracks blown out of their transports ran forward and into the southernmost bastion.  The other Raiders shifted east to further make use of the bastions for cover and adjust to the Land Raider shift.  Their Lances pounded against the armored might of Imperial Ceramite plating, but all of it amounted to little as the only real damage was a Lascannon torn off of one of the smoke belching God Hammers.  The Dark Elder could see that their Grotesques and Beast Masters were going to be useless if that armor wasn’t cracked, plus the Dreadnoughts would be likely to tie them up if they weren’t cautious, so the Grotesques ran to take cover behind the bastion the wracks were in, moving mostly laterally.  The BeastMasters moved back to try and minimize their exposure to the Dreadnoughts' next round of flaming death.  Meanwhile The Venom to the east shot the land speeder that had moved near the church.  The trueborn inside failed to kill it.  The Talos and Cronos ran into better positions.  Neither monster wanted to get entangled with the Walker so they chose not to charge it but hoped to lure it into charging them instead of the squishier BeastMasters!

Turn 2:
The second Drop Pod landed behind the first, depositing the other Furioso behind the Drop pod of the first Furioso.  It ran to get better firing position and towards the center bastion.
The Blood Angels fired again, with all their LandRaiders and this time they took a Dark Lance off one of the Raiders on the eastern side of the battlefield.  Because of the shorter range on some of the Raider variants, the fusilade was minimal and survivable.

The Dreadnought moved up and flamed the BeastMasters again but was not able to charge it thanks to their wisdom in putting distance between the two units the round previous.

The land speeder near the church did its level best to END the Venom in front of it but could not.  The Drop Pod put a Hull Point of damage on one of the nearby Raiders unexpectedly though!

Overhead, the sky was split by the thunderous sound of the supersonic VoidRaven Bomber.  It screamed overhead and dropped a Void Bomb on top of the Furioso, immobilizing it!  It then fired its Void Lances into a Redeemer in the NW of the enemies deployment, immobilizing it!  BOOM.

The Cronos and Talos made their way towards the enemy lines.

The Grotesques (plus Urien) and BeastMasters continued forward at full tilt, careful to stay far enough away from the second dreadnoughts charge range, which limited them somewhat on how close they could really go forward, per se.

The Dark Raiders fired and continued to put Hull Point damage on the enemy but not much more.

The affronted Trueborn in their venom moved forward and blasted the LandSpeeder from the skies while it hugged the side of the church like the skirts of its weepinig mother.  The heavy concentration of Dark Elder on the right flank was starting to take a toll.

Turn 3
The God Hammers smashed another Raider into the ground from afar.  Others tilted their guns skyward, shooting at the Bomber that now threatened them, but to no avail.  Mephiston stirred from his book and prepared as the Trueborn would soon be coming around the eastern flank to where his Redeemer sat waiting…  The Redeemer he was near moved forward and opened up on the  Venom with holy flame but couldn't kill it.

The VoidRaven Bomber banked north and smashed the Silver Redeemer.  Now they had Mephistons attention!  The Wracks in the Bastion moved out, after the Grotesques (and BeastMasters) passed by the fortification.

The Wracks knew they had to be brave little Line Breakers and time was pressing in.  The unit of wracks that was just blown out also followed behind them, while the unit of Dark Raider with Wracks nearest the SE corner destroyed the closest Drop Pod.  It was their only target since they moved too far away to hit the Land Raiders in the interests of taking the objective later.
The Cronos and Talos crunched their way forward some more and into the second level of buildings, approaching the downed Redeemers.  The Pain Engine immobilized the first Dreadnought with its TL Haywire Blaster,

while the Trueborn got out and laced into the Tactical marines that had been forced out by the bomber.  When that failed to kill all of them, the Trueborn charged and were able to hold the last two up! Mephiston watched in disgust right next to them.

Another unit of Wracks streaked up the left side at full tilt behind a building and nearest to a Redeemer in the far NW corner.  It positioned itself to try and ram the enemy in the next round.

So as the third round came to a close, the vicious monsters of Uriens design had closed in and were over midfield, nearing the enemies centrally placed objective.  BeastMasters were to their right and not far behind.  The Dreadnought “linemen” were immobilized and unable to stop their advance.  Still, only one Redeemer was dead and Mephiston was yet to make his presence known.

Round 4:
 Mephiston attacked the TrueBorn, and through poor rolls, did not manage to wipe them completely, so they held.  The Marines added little to the effort.

The mobile Land Raiders moved and fired into the oncoming horde of monsters, killing almost all of the first Wrack unit that had gotten out of the Bastion.  Ouch.  The Wracks behind them got flamed and nearly killed by the immobile Dreadnought.  More ouch.  LineBreaker wasn’t looking too likely at that stage for the Deark Eldar.

The Blood Angels were up 1-0 at this stage.

The VoidRaven Bomber took off into the clouds and disappeared.  The Cronos and the Talos crushed their way forwards and tried to get to combat with Mephiston but could not.  The Raider in the SE corner moved its Wracks right near the objective there and killed the first immobilized Dreadnought for spite but the Wracks stayed inside and bided their time.  Poorly.

The Raider that had positioned itself last turn RAMMED the God Hammer (with the missing LasCannon) and caused another Hull Point to it but otherwise failed to influence it.

The Dark Eldar monstrosities of Urien pressed forward and got to within striking distance of all the Land Raiders but had no weapons that could actually hurt the behemoths with and could not charge something they could not hurt!  That were left waiting patiently for someone to kill, in front of a lot of guns.

Mephiston wiped the TrueBorn, then wiped his sword, then consolidated towards his fellow Land Raider buddies to help next round.

The Score was now 1-3, Dark Eldar favor.

Round 5:
Mephiston took flight and ran to the backfield of the Land Raiders.  Out poured the Tactical marines, unleashing bolter death and surprisingly, they wiped the rest of the Wracks out of existence that were trying to break the lines.  They knew the charge was coming but the Landraiders formed a narrow strait through which to attack and perhaps it would restrict the enemy ENOUGH to give them a chance.  After all, The Emperor Protects.  The Land Raider in the NW corner couldn’t move so its occupants got out and started humping it towards the objective also but didn’t reach it.

The moment Urien had waited for was here.  He opened his Casket of Flinsing but it did nothing.  Angrily, with one word, his BeastMasters and Grotesques went berserk and swarmed forward:  “FEED”.

Only the Beast Masters were able to get through the narrow corridor between God Hammers and not all of them.  Hurt and angry Clawed Fiends slashed and raked against ceramite armor…  But not a single space Marine fell!  Not one.  The Emperor Protects indeed!  The BeastMasters were defeated and had to test their morale, but they held.

The VoidRaven Bomber streaked onto the field and again tried to kill marines but unfortunately there were none available to kill and its void lanced epically failed.

The Cronos and Talos both attacked the death company that had been hiding behind all the Raiders the whole time and were temporarily held up with the trifling matter.

The Wracks got out of their Raider to take the SE objective.

The Dark Eldar were up 3-1 but the marines had held and if Mephiston could help turn the tide at the gap, while the LandRaiders pushed into Urien and his Grotesques that had not made the charge, the Marines could still win 4-3!  There was hope yet.

Round 6:
Mephiston jumped into combat.to help the besieged Marines and wgot challenged!  The challenger actually wounded Mephiston before getting cut in half.  But now that more of the beasts were involved in the fight, the beat down on the normal Marines began in ernest.  One of the two units ran off the board screaming. That left a lone pare of Marines, and Mephiston, to hold the gap.  They HAD to defeat the beasts and send them packing to win.  Could Mephiston do it?

The Land Raiders pushed the Grotesques back and the Drop pod took potshots. While the stragglers from the immobilized redeemer from the round before in the NW corner continued to run for it.

The Dark Eldars tuirn came and the Death Company died, their essence sucked from them by the Cronos and spew'd in a gory shower for his nearby comrades to enjoy. 

Mephiston was challenged again and that proved the lynchpin as the Dark Eldar Beasts tore the two Marines apart in a flurry of Razorwing feathers, drowning the Marines last hopes of holding the objective.  Mephiston, though contesting, no longer had a way to take it.  The Wracks secured the SE objective.

The final score was 3-1, Dark Eldar.

6th Edition Top 5 and Bottom 5

Here are the top 5 rules Changes that I thought GW hit a home run on.

1.  Movement is now by model, not by unit.  So heavy weapons aren't considered moving unless the actual heavy weapon model itself moved.

2.  Snap Fire:  This just makes worlds of sense.  If yer hand can at least reach the trigger, you never know what can happen!

3.  Abolition of the 6" rule.  Did anyone else just think that was...questionable?  Well now it's fixed.  No more getting run off with a tank chassis with all its weapons blown off.

4.  The 2" extra move from Rhinos is gone gone gone.  Me likey.

5.  Challenges.  This has been part of Warhammer Fantasy forever and I'm glad it's in 6E.  Makes Tyranids and many other armies capable of protecting their men a lot easier when thats the goal and allows a more cinematic feel to a fight.  I know that unit leaders just got real popular.

The Bottom 5:

1.  Allies, and to be more specific certain allies.  They just dont make sense in places.  My objectivon is just on the roleplaying/Fluff side.  Violates a lot of it.  I also note that fluff, such as the exterminatus order against Tau was literally just removed altogether in the Tau section of the 6E rulebook (bottom right sidebar).  Many will not have noticed the subtle changes.  Orks are the same way:  a lot of their fluff was subtly changed and certain facts left out that are pretty darn central to the old fluff for these guys.

2.  Building rules and grenades.  Somehow you can only throw one grenade from the unit but when you face a building, you can ALL throw them?  Wierd.

3.  Jump packs can only be used in EITHER the assault phase OR the movement phase.  This was done for the obvious reason that they didn't want 24" assaults, BUT it also means Hammer of Wrath is only usable if you don't jump into range.  There are going to be times when this is a bad thing. 

4.  Hit and run makes you go 3d6, not UP TO 3D6.  Not really clear why, but there you have it.

5.  Rserves that can't assault... any reserves.  Kroot were always good enough to take but definitely on the bubble.  What can save them now?  Many reserve units are now going to be of dubious usefulness, and the one I really have a hard time with is the infiltrating ones.  Those seem like they most definitely should be able to strike but cannot.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

First games in 6E

It didn't take long for me to hear someone say the immortal words that kick off every new Codex and every new Edition:  "They ruined Warhammer!".

Naturally the level headed among us find a slightly less hyperbole filled way to describe our concerns.

First, the Top 5 things to like about Warhammer now:

1.  Shooting armies stand a chance.  They FINALLY realized that different units do their damage in different ways and that should actually be okay with GW.  Shooting was nerfed by the simple fact that the shooting just really wasn't doing much.  Assault armies tended to be so hard to kill and fast to deliver, plus wrapped in armor with silly cover saves.  Shooting just was simply fruitless.  Even with high volume of fire it didn't matter because assault armeis attack the easist stat in the game:  Leadership.  Shooting attacks the most protected stat in the game:  wounds.

2.  Despite the damage threshold vehicles now have, your tanks can now keep pumping out shots a whole lot easier, and there's nothing saying, in our melta heavy world that a tank would have survived more than three solid hits in the first place.  Nothing more frustrating than taking a RailHead and getting it silenced the entire game.  They also made vehicles less of a target.  Now that they can't do anything to objectives, the tanks will get shot less.  So the threshold is a bummeron some levels but I really think that'll be alright in the end.  It also forces the armies to be a little more sensical.

3.  Fearless saves are gone.  Nuff said there.

4.  Warlord Traits.  They aren't very powerful in general, but they give you really goof fodder if you want to explain a battle, mix things up and write more interesting Battle reports.  You can have a Space Marine Captain name for every ability in your preferred column!

5.  Dawn of War deployment gone.  Good.

Thn there's the not so great:

1.  Wound allocation deserved quite a few illustrated examples just for ease of understanding.  While gameplay eventually untied it for us, the impression you gt from the book is fragmented enough for someone to easily misunderstand it.  Clarity on such an important point, with more pictures as well as words would have seemed wise.

2.  I'm lukewarm on allies at BEST.  I feel like some armies just cry out to be joined like Chaos and Daemons, or Sisters of battle reuniting with their IG vassals.  But then the oddball ones like Tau and Space Mariens make you go:  "whuuuuuu?  as Battle Brothers no less?".

3.  Game length appears to be affected.  This seems primarily due to the added complexity of close combat.  Makes it tougher to play in a tourney at least initially.

4.  The 1999 Point break is an annoying source of problems.  1999 games are what I want to play so the force Org chart expansion can be avoided.  I just assumed my opponent was doing the same and midway through the game I asked how he had so many darn HQ's and he told me innocently that he was playing 2K.  This silly point break seems capricious and now you never know what FOC people are going to take til you start the game.  I hope tourneys sort of adopt  1999 or even 1850 as tourney standard to avoid this sort of "surprise" happening.

5.  AP in close combat.  What a pain in the patooty.  2+ armor is now ridonculous to crack.  Terminators are just going to go buckwild in combat now and many armies will have no answer for them.

In the end, Warhammer looks like it will be fine.  There are gripes and there are plus's.  Big thing now is for you to go out and play 20 games so you can run into lots of rules questions and get them answered so that you're not left wondering what truck just ran you over at a tournament.

I hope everyone stays calm and doesn't judge each other harshly during this learning phase.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Rise of the Empire

The Tau Empire is beginning to Rise from the ashes in 6th Edition.

So many rules to talk about!  The Tau Empire has become more effective in 6th Edition.  Some of that comes from unexpected quarters of the new rulebook, other things come from the FAQ.  Let's dig in.

Snap Fire:  We all know that for the most part, when taking charges, the Tau are lost.  It is only a matter of degree and whether we can take a few with us first.  Snap fire is therefore obviously awesome in TWO ways and a downside in one.
First, it can break a charge and stop it from happening.  Snap Fire happens before you roll for the charge distance, and just one casualty caused by snap fire can be all the difference between a made or failed charge.  So it isn't just the damage you do, but it's also the added 1/2" to 2" inches you can rob the charge of.

Being able to snap fire heavy Weapons is going to mean a lot more to Tau than some armies.  Rail rifles are more useful than they were when outflanking and Sniper Drone Teams are at least marginally more useful when coming on from reserve.  Markerlights themselves will be able to hit on the move on occassion too. 

Broadsides might risk not taking Advanced Stabilization and take multitrackers more now that they can snap fire.

Snap Shot really is going to make for a more potent Tau force given that shooting IS their offense.  Fire Warriors, for this reason and others have grown much scarier.

Downside is, you used to be able to fire as you fall back, at full BS, and since so many Tau find themselves in this unenviable position, it's unfortunate that tyhey will be less effective when doing so.  This is far outeigh'd though by the benefits.

And regrouping is now far easier in 6th Edition!  there is no 6" rule.  That is huge.

Another unexpected quarter of help comes from a piece of Wargear no one ever uses:  Vectored Retro Thrusters.  If you've read my blog, then you know I like Sealthsuits.  Only one member of a unit needs to have Hit and Run in order for the entire unit to have it!  That means that a Shas'El can grant this ability to the Stealth unit.  The possibilities of a Stealthsuit unit with a Shas'El with this wargear, coupled with the Failsafe Detonator are even more awesome than they already were.  You don't even have to hide the commander from combat like you used to becasue you have a Team Leader to accept or issue challenges for the Shas'El and the units LD is not affected by the loss of a Team Leader.  Overall the Vectored Retro Thrusters should prove quite useful.

One other benefit of theFailsafe Detonator is the way pile in moves work.,  The Pile in mechanic ensures a really nasty number of hits for the failsafe detonator, better than any LashWhipe could ever hope to cause!

Positional Relays remain the boon they always were. Though the rules have changed, the functional value of it has not.

Shield Drones now work ten times better than they did.  Thanks to the Look Out Sir special rule and the fact that once unsaved wounds start getting allocated to a character they KEEP getting allocated to him til he's dead (or not dead), the Drones ability to negate these wounds when you get to the last one becomes quite valuable in preserving the units strength.  Lets say my Shas'el is the closest member of the Stealthsuit unit.  He then will be allocated wounds until he dies.  So with irriduium armor and Look Out Sir on his Drones, his entire unit may take no damage at all from a Leman Russ Punisher!  The added staying power this can give a unit is ridiculous.  Draigo and Archons are both other excellent examples of characters that can lead the way and protect their unit from considerable damage from the front and the Tau Commanders now join their ranks in that regard.

High armor values are very much rewarded in the new 6th Edition and Iridium armor is now worth its weight in gold for this reason.  It becomes ten times better than it was for protecting the unit behind the leader.

Drones that belong to a dead Controller are now going to be able to at least swing at the enemy before dying thanks to the FAQ clarifying that they go away at the end of the phase.

Sensor Spines, with the new terrain rules, have just shot up in value.  The ability to ignore terrain effects is a big one withthe mysterious stuff that's been added to the game.

The FAQ made Decoy Launchers relevant again, which was nice.  In the land of objective missions, the Decoy Launcher is King.  Hull Points make keeping a vehicle alive a little longer difficult, and now you only explode on a 6.  This makes a Decoy Launcher more valuable overall.  Of course there will be times when you don't wish to employ the launcher, but the option is very nice.

The Mishap table was kind to Tau.  Not only is it less lethal now, but in addition, Reserves come on faster so that being put in Reserve or Ongoing Reserve is a small matter.  The fact that Pathfinder Devilfish's let you re-roll DeepStrike locations makes Tau the Deep Striking KINGS of 40K as they should be.

Add to this in the case of Stealthsuits, that they can take advantage of cover like no one's business now, and you have a really REALLY good unit there.  Consider also that enemy Reserves rolling on from the board edge can't charge you on the round they appear!  This is an enormous advantage for a Deep Striking army because it ensures that the melee threats you see when you Deep Strike are truly the only immediate threats you have to deal with.  No surprise charges.

The Jet Packs rule has now made the Stealth unit a lot easier to use also.  Before, you were unable to bounce on the round you arrived via DeepStrike with any Tau units except Drone units.  That prohibition has been lifted and you now can.  This means that even a bad Deep Strike too close to the enemy will not mean certain doom.  In fact, there will be almost no time when a stealth unit or Crisis unit will worry about getting charged the round it comes in.  Premeasuring makes Deep Striking a science instead of an art.  Excellent!

I've often said the REAL value in Crisis suits is their TL Flamers.  This package is highly affordable and the damage output is worth the price, plus losing them isn't so bad.  Now that you don't have to worry about reserve troops whacking you, their boldness can increase also.

Sadly the importance and usefulness of pinning has been sharply reduced, and Crabines are much less attractive.  But that's okay because the Fire Warrior Pulse Rifle now has a 15" Rapid Fire Range!  This is an incredibly significant change given you can premeasure and stay out of charge range much more easily.  While the truly fast unit WILL catch you eventually, that 15" range is awfully significant.  Staying 21 inches from units means never being charged by any BUT the fastest and pumping out a very significant rate of fire.  Fire Warriors are BACK.

Nothing but good news for Stingwings who now have the Hammer of Wrath ability.  As an emergency charger, they became a lot better and their ability to help out in contesting objectives improved.  Can't tell you how many 5 man scout units they've been forced to go after on a rear objective and been bounced or unable to affect much.  With their Fleet of Wing ability, it will almost guarantee they can get the charge off when they need to and this will dramatically increase their rearguard attack ability.

Photon Grenades are pretty cool now.  With the new rules, they grant stealth to the unit against units that are close enough to charge (within 8" anyways).  That means chargers will be able to do less damage to Tau before the charge and that can only help.

Even Hammerhead Railguns got an upgrade.  Thanks to the fact that blasts now do FULL damage to vehicles they touch, no matter where they scatter, the Submunition is a little better than it was before.  It still wont win any awards as a vehicle killer but it is something and therefore at least worth mentioning.

There were a couple downsides.

Kroot suffered big time.  They can't charge from outflank, nor infiltrate, nor reserve.  Overall they took a serious bath.  As a low cost firebase they might still be viable, but not even the Hounds can save them now.  They are a bad unit now unless something changes.  60 points will get you a cheaper fire Warriors that can block charges or "bubble wrap" just as well as any other unit can and now that Fire Warriors can actually move ones in a while, this is twice as true.  It will be a very difficult thing to include Kroot now.

Piranhas lost their ability to take the Target Lock as did all Tau units.  this was a head scratcher.  This might seem small but the Target Lock was a really powerful piece of wargear for a lot of reasons.  It made Broadsides better, and allowed you to make more use of the FOC.  in the case of Piranhas though, you could lay waste to multiple vehicles in a round.  this ability was very useful for "breaking the charges" of the enemy. 

The loss of value on Pinning, coupled with the Sniper Drones loss of Target Locks really makes the unit a lot less attractive.  Snap Fire helps a bit but overall, you go from a unit that could pin three units to a unit that can pin one.  There's just no getting around that what was alreayd a suspect unit in some peoples eyes because of its lack of the relentless rule has now sort of come to rest in the TRULY suspect category.

Well those are the biggees.  I hope you enjoyed reading it.